MEET THE CHEF: Chef Lindsey

 What inspired you to start Farm Cut?
The idea behind Farm Cut came during my experience as a private chef and new mom in Manhattan. I was frustrated with the limited options for healthy, readily available food in Manhattan—I was busy and I didn’t want to eat bad food. And, by “bad,” I mean food made with processed ingredients, not very tasty or—no joke—getting a couple of pieces of lettuce as “the meal”. I soon discovered that many people felt the same way.

My clients craved comfort foods like spaghetti and meatballs—but wanted to eat healthy. So, I set out to create nutritional versions of these classic dishes. I made turkey and kale meatballs with freshly roasted spaghetti squash in place of pasta, and topped it with vine-ripe tomato sauce. I also realized that people like to learn about the superfoods I was using in my recipes—how they made them feel and look better.

What is your food philosophy?
My philosophy is this: eating healthy shouldn’t mean going hungry or having boring food. It’s possible to be full, satisfied, and enjoy your meal—while still eating healthy. In fact, that’s how nature intended—there are so many incredible flavors and associated benefits from natural foods. The way we consume food has become so convoluted and confusing—I entered the food industry to help change that. That’s why I put all ingredients and nutritional benefits right on our labels— so our customers can know what they’re eating.

How would you describe your cuisine?
I would describe my cooking as New American with California influences. There’s a focus on seasonal ingredients, which was inspired by kitchens in California—places like Napa and Sonoma. And, my menu reflects the many cultural influences in the food we eat across the country with dishes like bison sliders, banana pancakes, huevos rancheros, and sticky sesame chicken. It’s definitely elevated comfort food—all made healthier with a bit of creativity and a foundation of good ingredients.

Tell us about your background.
I was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, and studied business at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During a semester abroad in Italy, I fell in love with the culture of good, fresh food, and my passion for all things culinary was sparked. For the first few years after college, I worked in both strategy consulting and business development in Washington, D.C.

At around 25, I decided to follow my true passion—moving to New York to attend the Institute of Culinary Education. After culinary school, I worked in the kitchen at Gramercy Tavern. Despite the challenges, I loved every minute of working my way up in the kitchen. I then spent years as a private chef cooking healthy, personalized meals for clients all over Manhattan.  

How do you add flavor to your meals?
I believe the best flavors are found right in nature, not from added fat, salt, and sugar. By using fresh, seasonal ingredients and no artificial additives, my team ensures the flavor of each fruit and vegetable really shines through in each dish. Herbs and spices like rosemary, turmeric, and garlic add flavor and nutritional benefits while a little lemon juice and cold-pressed olive oil also go a long way in helping the ingredients shine.

For the sweet treats on our menu, we use natural ingredients like dates, wild honey, and maple syrup to add sweetness—no refined sugar necessary!

What sort of oils do you cook with and why?
My team only cooks with all-natural olive, avocado, and coconut oils, and avoids toxic processed oils like canola, corn, soybean, and vegetable oils that many other kitchens use. Even though the oils we use have nutritional benefits, we still make sure to limit the total amount of oil in a dish to keep the calories low. And, we never fry our food.  

Farm Cut Meals are free of dairy—what do you use instead?
We use coconut milk, cashews, butternut squash, and other rich vegetables and nuts to add that creamy texture to our dishes like Quinoa Mac n’ “Cheese”, which is just as delicious as the real deal.

Farm Cut meals maximize the nutritional value of each ingredient, how do you make that happen?
By sourcing locally and what’s in season, my team maximizes the flavor and nutritional value of each ingredient. The less time produce spends off the vine, the better it is for you. Plus, we prepare each dish in a way that will retain the nutrients in each ingredient—such as steaming and gentle poaching. And, while we do season, we try to not over-do anything—we want the tastes of the fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish to shine through.

Your menus change weekly—how do you choose what to cook?
Aside from a focus on seasonality, I draw inspiration from cookbooks, other chefs, my favorite restaurants, and what’s new at green groceries and farmers markets. I work closely with my Culinary Director, Robin Lee, to come up with interesting dishes for upcoming menus. And, of course, we incorporate requests from our catering clients.

I believe that the key to eating healthy is variety—you can’t eat the same thing every day and be truly healthy. You need to eat different fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats to obtain optimum health and nutrition. That’s why we constantly change our menu at Farm Cut.

What do you do when you’re not at Farm Cut?
When I’m not working, I’m spending time with my daughter, Emerson, and my husband, Carter. I love to travel—and I love a good fitness class or experiencing New York’s culinary scene with my girlfriends.

Thanks for chatting with us, Lindsey!

You can follow along behind the scenes at Farm Cut by following @HealthChefLindsey on Instagram.

 

Cori Sue Morris